Does the GOP Really Care?

Welcome to the Republican Party’s latest campaign: the Kiss-and-Make-Up-with-Hispanics initiative.

It’s not an officially sanctioned activity of the GOP. But at least some Republicans are trying to mend fences with Hispanic voters so as to improve the party’s prospects in 2012 and beyond.

This is one of the major goals behind the Hispanic Leadership Network, a new organization that wants to act as a bridge between Hispanics and the “center-right movement.” It recently held its inaugural conference in Miami, and I was invited to participate as part of a media panel.

The event was co-chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who has spent most of his life around Hispanics. That includes being married for nearly four decades to Mexican-born Columba Garnica Gallo de Bush.

Bush raised eyebrows when he told those gathered at the conference that, because of the phenomenal growth of the Hispanic community, it would be “incredibly stupid” for Republicans to ignore the Hispanic vote.

Come to think of it, it would be even more stupid for Republicans to continue to do what they do now: antagonize Hispanics by using them as piñatas to entertain white constituents – or, worse, portraying them as bogey men to scare up votes.  This is the modus operandi for too many in the GOP. They reach for low-hanging fruit by pursuing non-Hispanics and,they think, the best way to do that is to use Hispanics as a convenient foil. (more…)

Anchor and Terror Babies: Really a Problem?

The “anchor-terror baby” blitz has begun. We’ve seen the script before: create a straw man (i.e. “terror babies”) to build up and easily tear down, or pick a wedge issue (i.e. “anchor babies” or the “ground zero mosque”) in an election year that forces the other side (usually Democrats) to go on the record in defense of a group that can’t speak up for itself (i.e. undocumented immigrants or Muslim Americans). These wedge issues are effective because inevitably there will be some Democrats in touch races that don’t want to risk looking weak on national security, and they will come out against their fellow Democrats.

Think about it: who wants to explain why they’re for terror babies or anchor babies?


A Tea Party Train Wreck & The First Amendment

The so-called Tea Party Express has identified some favored candidates for this election cycle in an effort to advance a bevy of right-wing attacks on American civil liberties, all in the name of “taking the country back.” I asked before and I’ll ask again here, back to what? A close look at just one of these candidates, Nevada GOP candidate Sharron Angle, provides an unflattering and menacing answer.


Manhattan Mosque A Matter of Principle

Does it seem insensitive for a mosque to be built near Ground Zero? Sure it does. I imagine for those who lost loved ones that September 11th, it must certainly seem callous, and defiant in the face of the resulting outcry. On the other hand, should we respect the right of a New York Muslim congregation to build a place of worship in Lower Manhattan? Of course, we should. This is America. And the principle of religious freedom and tolerance is at the core of our founding vision.

So why the big hoopla?


Dreams in the Making

Some have long maintained that a Harvard diploma is a “golden passport.”

But sometimes what a Harvard student needs is the real thing: a U.S. passport. Or, for that matter, a birth certificate, Social Security card, or any proof of legal residency to avoid being deported to a country you don’t know.

That sort of thing would have come in handy for Harvard sophomore Eric Balderas, a 19-year-old biology major who recently became internationally known after he was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for being in the United States unlawfully. The arrest occurred on June 7 as Balderas tried to board an airplane to Boston after visiting his mother in San Antonio. Because he lost his Mexican passport, he tried to board the plane using only his Harvard student ID card and his Mexican consular card. That tipped off authorities. So Balderas was quickly slated for deportation to Mexico.


Arizona Reminiscent of Palmetto

As a kid growing up on the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, I was fascinated by a piece of local history about the Battle of Palmetto Hill. Considered the last battle of the Civil War, it actually took place after the War had officially ended because news of surrender had not yet reached the hinterlands. Ironically, even though the Civil War ended 145 years ago, the news has apparently still not reached all remote areas of our nation, like Arizona.

In that state, whose population is 30% Latino, the government seeks to broaden police powers to identify and apprehend undocumented immigrants, in effect legalizing racial profiling of Latinos, trampling on federal jurisdiction over immigration policy and enforcement, and undermining the ongoing efforts of the US Census to accurately count undocumented immigrants.

Just as the Civil War was largely about race and the balance of power between states and the federal government, Arizona’s bold – and reckless – move echoes an inglorious chapter from our nation’s past.